Further Education and Training Bill [L ords]
Orders of the Day
Alan Johnson (Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills; Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, Labour)
First, I am delighted to see the hon. Gentleman in the Chamber. May I say how much we support his stance in seeking to convince his party to, in his words, "confront the evidence"? It is a huge compliment to Tony Crosland that the Opposition have someone such as the hon. Gentleman in their Front-Bench team.
Since the establishment of the LSC, all of us thought it was rather strange, to say the least, that although we had set up regional development agencies and a number of other regional structures, the LSC did not have a regional structure but 47 local learning and skills council organisations. That was a mismatch. Four years ago, we gave a regional dimension to LSCs, but the purpose now is to establish a full-blown regional committee.
As for local partnerships, in Greater Manchester one learning and skills organisation covers the whole area, but there will be 10 much leaner, much more flexible versions of the LSC that can deal with the different communities around Manchester. In a sense, that is devolution upwards to the region but, in another sense, it is a much more powerful approach to the LSC locally.